Amandine, a novel, Marlena de Blasi
Set against the backdrop of Europe as it moves toward World War II, the story opens in Krakow in 1931, as a baby girl is conceived out of wedlock, the by product of a foolish heart and a tragic inheritance. The child's grandmother, a countess, believes that she is protecting her daughter when she claims that the baby didn't survive. In truth, however, she deposits the infant at a remote convent in the French countryside, leaving her with a great sum of money and in the care of a young governess named Solange.
Solange takes it upon herself to give the child a distinctive name, Amandine, and the two form a special bond. But even Solange's unconditional love cannot protect her charge. Mistrusted by both the abbess and the convent girls, the unusually astute and curious Amandine finds her childhood filled with challenges and questions: Who is she? Where does she come from?
Eventually, Solange is forced to choose between the terrors of the convent and those of a global war looming outside its doors. Thus, with a purse full of worthless Francs and a sack of provisions, the two flee north toward Solange's childhood home. But what should have been a two-day journey by train becomes a perilous, years long odyssey across Occupied France and deeper into the treacheries of war.
Tracing the flight of Amandine and Solange while peering into the lives of the countess and her daughter, Amandine's mother, who still mourns and dreams of the child she thinks she's lost forever, Marlena de Blasi's epic novel winds its way to a dramatic and compelling conclusion, as mother and daughter draw ever nearer. A sumptuous tale of identity and survival, persistent hope and unexpected love.
Red Knife, A Cork O'Connor Mystery, William Kent Krueger
When the daughter of a powerful businessman dies as a result of her meth addiction, her father, strong willed and brutal Buck Reinhardt, vows revenge. His target is the Red Boyz, a gang of Ojibwe youths accused of supplying the girl's fatal drug dose. When the head of the Red Boyz and his wife are murdered in a way that suggests execution, the Ojibwe gang mobilizes, and the citizens of Tamarack County brace themselves for war, white against red.
Both sides look to Cork O'Connor, a man of mixed heritage, to uncover the truth behind the murders. A former sheriff, Cork has lived, fought and nearly died to keep the small town streets and his family safe from harm. He knows that violence is never a virtue and he believes that it's sometime a necessary response to the evil that men do. Racing to find answers before the bloodshed spreads, Cork himself becomes involved in the darkest of deeds. As the unspeakable unfolds in the remote and beautiful place he calls home, Cork is forced to confront the horrific truth: Violence is a beast that cannot be contained.
In Red Knife, Krueger gives his readers a vivid picture of racial conflict in small town America, as well as a sensitive look at the secrets we keep from even those closest to us and the destructive nature of all that is left unsaid between fathers and sons, husbands and wives, friends and lovers.
The Butterfly Mosque, A Young American Woman's Journey to Love and Islam, G. Willow Wilson
Twenty seven year old G. Willow Wilson has already established herself as an accomplished writer on modern religion and the Middle East in publications such as The Atlantic Monthly and The New York Times Magazine. In her memoir, which is being published in ten countries, the Colorado raised journalist tells her story of converting to Islam and falling in love with an Egyptian man in a turbulent post 9/11 world.
When Wilson leaves her atheist parents in Denver to study at Boston University, she enrolls in an Islamic studies course, hopeful that it will help her to understand her inchoate spirituality. As she reads through the teachings and events of the Quran, Wilson is both astounded and comforted by how deeply this fourteen hundred year old document speaks to who she is, and decides to risk everything to convert to Islam and embark on a fated journey across continents and into an uncertain future.
She settles in Cairo where she teaches English and tries to submerge herself in a culture based on her adopted religion. And then she meets Omar, a passionate young man with a mild resentment of the Western influences in his homeland. They enter into a daring relationship that calls into question the very nature of family, belief and tradition. Torn between the West and Muslim East, Wilson, unmistakably Western with her red hair, shaky Arabic and candor, records her personal struggle to forge a "third culture" that might accommodate her own values without compromising them or the friends and family on both sides of the divide.
Part travelogue, part love story, this one will stay with the reader for years!
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